Now one of the Pharisees was requesting Him to dine with him, and He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.
Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.” And Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Say it, Teacher.”
“A moneylender had two debtors: one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they were unable to repay, he graciously forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.” And He said to him, “You have judged correctly.”
Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
I love this story. Doesn’t it just grip you? Aren’t you amazed by the power of this interaction? I am. I want to be in that room. I want to be that woman. I want that experience!
Guess what? I can have that experience! My interactions with Jesus, whether in the quiet (or chaotic loudness!) of my kitchen, or on Sunday mornings, accompanied by music and the voices of a congregation, can be this impacting. This incredible worship service — this meeting of broken humanity with holy God — can happen to me.
“And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner…”
The first thing I learn from this woman is this: she came to Jesus just as she was. Did she know there was no use in hiding it? Perhaps she’d heard Him preach, had seen His piercing eyes, had felt the twisting, tightening grip of conviction as she stood in a crowd. Whatever the case, when she slipped into Simon’s house that day, she came honestly, humbly, repentantly.
I crave authentic experiences with this glorious Jesus. My soul longs for Him, thirsts for Him, is absolutely desperate for Him. But an authentic meeting of my soul with His Spirit requires, well, authenticity.
That’s a cool sounding word these days, but when I try it on for size, it doesn’t always look so hip.
More often than not, in looks like me, broken, owning up to my sharp words. My grumbling spirit. My anxious and worrisome attitude. My faithless outlook. My negative judgments about me, you, and everyone else.
It looks like me coming face to face with how deplorable, to the point of being absolutely ludicrous, the state of ME is.
The more I do it, the easier it is, I find. Maybe like that woman, I already know there’s no point in pretending. God already heard me muttering on the way to church (I felt that conviction, tearing up my insides, refusing to let me be comfortable with such loathsome behavior.) What, then, is the point of waiting until the third, fourth, fifth song to finally come clean? Why not just realize that, just like her, I am “a woman in the city who [is] a sinner”?
And why wait till Sunday morning? The burden of this sin and striving is far too much for me to bear, even for an hour. No, better to start out first thing every morning, the moment the realization of humanity hits my consciousness (which is about 2 minutes after waking, for me.)
Better to just continually come to Him, the One we instinctively know can wash and forgive and change us from the inside out. I don’t like who I am, but hiding it won’t help. The only chance for change lies in me, coming as I am, to a perfectly holy God… who also, in His amazingness, happens to be a perfectly loving God, too. (Isn’t that amazing?)
Do you wonder why your encounters with God have been superficial? Does your heart feel like hard soil in the heat of summer — unable to even absorb the water you know you so desperately need? Could it be you’re not experiencing the soul-quenching, life-bringing presence of God because you’re not bringing the dead, dry parts of your heart to Him?
He can change us. We can know the crazy, miraculous encounter of this woman. Just come authentically, as you are — and find out how amazing His authentic power and love are.